Work with local churches to enable them to deliver services to the community government does not provide
This was a tough one to consider because I know that many people have divided views on the role of churches in the community. Since being elected in 2012, I’ve been open about my willingness to work with local churches on their initiatives, in the same way we’re pleased to work with sporting clubs and other interest groups. Local residents have supported me on this though, and many have told me they are a part of a local church, to varying levels, and my support of local churches and their projects is important to them.
Australian churches, in fact, are the largest non-government providers of community services. Their role in OUR community actually mitigates (at least to some extent) the reliance of the public on government, enabling us to focus on that which is our core responsibility. In the local Hinterland, Mudgeeraba and Highland Park communities, a variety of active local churches deliver the following projects and services;
- Counselling services – marriage, personal, financial
- Assistance with bill payments for families in need
- Financial and household budgeting advice
- Christmas services and community carols
- Op Shops
- Care for the aged in homes
- Support of chaplaincy in schools
- Community rooms for use
- Singing classes and choir activities
- Community gardening and assistance for those struggling with their homes for health reasons
- Discounted food parcels and food bank services
- Youth activities
- Historical interest groups and tours
- Family history and genealogy support and services
- Domestic Violence support
- Sporting facilities and programming
In 2013 I started a quarterly Church Leaders Breakfast at my office, inviting local churches to share a morning meal together every three months to compare notes and keep me up to date on their initiatives, as well as keeping other churches up to date as well. While I firmly believe the people of Mudgeeraba, Highland Park and the Hinterland are smart enough to work out for themselves what they think about God (if anything) without my help, I know the community are supportive of finding ways government can work with all community groups better. Through the forum, we were able to connect local families to programs being run by local churches, services like food parcels and counselling, connecting local sporting and community groups to facilities available at church locations, and co-ordinate the Christmas Carols every year, which attracts about 3000-4000 people (in good weather) and raises money for local charitable causes.
You can expect this work to continue into the next term if you Vote 1 Tozer on March 19. While I like to keep religion out of government, helping community groups like churches help members of my community is a serious commitment and requires serious attention.